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DL.3s Turn the Tables on ‘Dinner Theatre’

The new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, MO, opened in September with a ‘wow’ event: 32 dinner tables set up on stage of the new theatre, whose plates and tables became a white canvas enhanced by digital lighting content from High End Systems, a Barco company, products including 32 DL.3 digital lights, controlled with a Road Hog Full Boar console.

Harvest Productions turned the tables on the gala weekend by redefining “dinner theatre.” The DL.3s solved many of the design team’s issues of tight timelines and reliable - not risky - projection results.

“The DL.3s were a good choice. The theme required unique uses of video content, mapping it onto unconventional surfaces, in essence changing the landscape. Much like the new Kauffman Center has done for Kansas City,” said Bill Hartnett, VP Business Development of Harvest Productions.

“Guests were there to have an experience like no other. The tables were alive with imagery, ever changing and moving, building the ‘wow’ factor layer upon layer.” Each guest had a "show" at their place setting. Images moved from the place setting up to the centrepiece or at times concentrated on the centre piece itself.

“Everything on the table was brilliantly white. Precise attention was given to focal length, the table size, placement and size of plates, chargers, centerpiece, to maximise empty white space. Menus, programs, and even the flowers were strategically placed to interact with the video content.”

O'Neill Event Management and The Wellington Group were responsible for overall planning, logistics and design of grand opening weekend. Harvest also collaborated with Take 2 Productions on content creation and mapping, according to table designer Chuck Matney’s vision.

The DL.3s were the best choice, he explained. Time was tight. With no access to the space until 3 a.m., Harvest needed to install 32 projectors and be show ready by 8 a.m. The DL.3s allowed them to move the image into the optimal position upon each table remotely. 

Cheaper alternatives were not an option.

“Vertical projection using 32 cheaper projectors with custom mounts to project vertically or with a remote controlled mirror was too big of a challenge. Most all of the projector manufacturers we spoke to indicated their units would overheat and/or void the warranty if mounted vertically. Custom rigging mirrors that ‘should’ work were too high a risk,” Hartnett explained.

The on-board media server allowed Harvest to pre-load content and test units in advance of load-in and address each for a specific table, allowing for custom content control.

Each DL.3 hung 25 feet high and directly above each table, giving the illusion that the images came from the table itself.

Reliability was essential. “We couldn't be testing, fabricating and winging it endlessly. We needed clear and capable technology. The DL.3s answered all the questions and became the logical choice,” Hartnett said.

“Another nice thing about the DL.3s was the ability to set cues that adjusted the focus,” Hartnett said. “When projecting a logo, we went to a tight sharp focus to bring clarity. When dinner was served, we took the images slightly out of focus to soften the edges and highlight the food. During dinner, content became more subtle and reserved, while we kept the dinner plates a clear and consistent white light.”

Harvest chose a Road Hog Full Boar with a DP8000 to control the DL.3s. A separate Wholehog 3 console was hooked in to allow them to remotely program and focus, while a second Wholehog 3 controlled other fixtures.

Harvest got the reaction they hoped for. After “Wow!” the most common comment was, “How much does this cost and how can I get it on my event?”





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